Proud Neil Lennon calls on Hibs to repeat Celtic display against Rangers
Neil Lennon has challenged his players to produce a repeat of the performance that defeated Celtic when they face Rangers on Wednesday night knowing another win will take them back in to the Ladbrokes Premiership's top six.
A first-minute goal from Vykintas Slivka and a second-half strike from Florian Kamberi guided Hibs to a 2-0 win against the champions, a result which Lennon admitted had even surprised him given the fact he had seven players out injured.
Hailing the victory as “remarkable” when seen against that background, the Hibs boss said: “I’m proud and delighted – but I’m also annoyed because two weeks ago against Kilmarnock we were pathetic and now we’ve put together two back-to-back wins playing well.
“That should kick-start our season now and if we overcome Rangers on Wednesday we’re back in the top six and things look healthy again.
“I thought we looked healthy today and there was a good belief about us and on the counter-attack we were fantastic and off the ball our discipline was very good and we’ve beaten a very good team.”
Slivka’s goal got Hibs off to a dream start but delighted as he was, Lennon admitted he worried about a Celtic backlash which never came. He said: “I looked at my watch and there’s 89 minutes to go! You think it’s going to be a long 89 minutes and you are waiting for the tidal wave to come.
“We had chances in the first half and more in the second and that’s not me being disrespectful to Celtic in any way.
“Some of our football was superb and it was a great second goal and a fantastic finish.”
Kamberi’s strike was his first in two months – the last of his previous seven coming at Celtic Park in October – and Lennon challenged the Swiss striker to keep producing the goods.
He said: “Kamberi can’t save the performances for the big games, he’s been half-there for a few weeks. He was more like it last week and was outstanding today.
“That’s his marker and he has to find that consistency.”
Slivka is now a major doubt for Wednesday night, the midfielder leaving the ground with his leg in a protective boot following a challenge by Celtic skipper Scott Brown which left him unable to continue and replaced by youngster Sean Mackie at half-time.
But Lennon expects Martin Boyle to be fit again after his head injury while checks will be made on David Gray, Paul Hanlon and Mark Milligan.
He said: “Everything came to pass today but we are not getting carried away with a big game on Wednesday.
“The signs are there that we are getting back to where we were before. The three points are marvellous, gets us back in amongst it. Wednesday is a game in hand so we have to try to maximise on that. We have to maintain that consistency and we could be in for another good season.”